Rift Between China, International Community OverMaldives Growing

February 09, 2018 9:13 AM

·        BillIde

AMaldivian policeman charges with a baton towards protesters after 
thegovernment declared a state of emergency, in Male, Maldives, Feb. 6, 2018.



China has waded into agrowing political crisis involving the small island 
nation of Maldives, urgingthe international community to play what it calls a 
“constructive role” in theongoing dispute, putting itself at odds with the 
United Nations on the issue.

The Maldives, which is known more for its luxury resorts, has become 
anincreasingly important part of China’s global trade and infrastructure 
project,the "Belt and Road" initiative. It is also seen by analysts as a 
keystrategic outpost in the Indian Ocean, despite its close proximity to India.

Earlier this month, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen declared a state 
ofemergency and ordered the arrest of Supreme Court judges and 
oppositionpoliticians, a move that critics argue is aimed at silencing 
opponents of thecurrent administration ahead of elections later this year.



FILE - An aerial viewof Maldives capital Male, Dec. 9, 2009.

The judges were jailedafter issuing a surprise ruling that called for the 
release of imprisonedopposition politicians. The growing number of arrests has 
sparked outcries frominternational rights groups and in a phone call late 
Thursday, U.S. PresidentDonald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi 
"expressed concernabout the political crisis in the Maldives and the importance 
of respect fordemocratic institutions and rule of law,” according to a White 
House statement.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged Yameen to end 
thestate of emergency and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid 
Ra’adal-Hussein has called the moves an “all-out assault on democracy.

In a bid to garner international support, the Maldives sent envoys to 
Pakistan,Saudi Arabia and China this week. According to a Chinese Foreign 
Ministrystatement Friday, the country’s economic development minister, Mohamed 
Saeed,met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on Thursday.

China stresses non-interference

According to thestatement, Wang Yi told the official that China believes the 
Maldivesgovernment and people have the "wisdom and ability to appropriately 
handlethe issue facing them and return the country to normal order in 
accordance withthe law."

And in a remark apparently aimed at the growing international chorus and 
theUnited Nations against the Maldives government’s actions, he also 
said:"China does not interfere in the Maldives' internal affairs, which is 
alsoan important criterion of the rules of the United Nations charter."

Maldivian PresidentAbdulla Yameen, center, surrounded by body guards arrives to 
address supportersin Male, Feb. 3, 2018.

Wang added that China has provided selfless aid to thecountry.

Ha….ha… hanya si Chan yang percaya kata-kata  Mr. Wang ini

Wang did notelaborate, but former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed has said 
that Beijinghas assumed more than 70 percent of the island nation’s debt and 
that nearly aquarter of the country’s current budget is used to cover interest 
payments.Similar comments about Chinese loans and indebtedness have come from 
politicalleaders in Sri Lanka, another island nation that Beijing is funding in 
the hopeof gaining more access to the Indian Ocean.

Over the past year, the Maldives’ government has putits support behind China’s 
trillion-dollar global trade and infrastructureproject, the “Belt and Road” 
initiative, signed a free trade agreement withBeijing and Chinese companies are 
involved a number of projects there,including the expansion of the Male airport.


In addition to growingeconomic ties, there is a strategic element that is also 

China opened its first overseas military base, or asit calls them “logistic 
hub,” in Djibouti last year and there have beencredible reports, analysts note, 
that more are on the way. According toreports, a base is under serious 
consideration near Gwadar Port in Pakistan,and another along the east coast of 
Africa, notes David Brewster, a senioranalyst with the National Security 
College at Australian National University.

“That would then leave, if  China wished to have a serious presencecovering the 
Indian Ocean, it would also require another naval and or airbasein the eastern 
or central Indian Ocean and the most realistic places for thatto be located are 
either in Sri Lanka or the Maldives,” he said.

But, while Beijing has significanteconomic interests in Maldives and strategic 
goals as well, the island nationis still well within India’s geopolitical 
orbit. Earlier this week,Nasheed, who has taken up refuge in India, urged New 
Delhi to send an envoy tothe archipelago, "backed by its military." He also 
asked the UnitedStates to "stop all financial transactions of Maldives regime 
leadersgoing through U.S. banks."

Brewster said Beijingwill be navigating the crisis carefully to keep that from 
happening and workingtogether with others, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

“Certainly there is nodoubt that China will want to see Yameen stay in power 
and it would be inChina’s interests for Yameen not to overstep the mark and do 
anything toovertly provoke India,” Brewster said. “China certainly does not 
want to giveIndia any reason to intervene and [for that to] lead to the 
restoration ofdemocracy.”

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